In Review: Savage Dragon #212

Savage Dragon continues to be an incredibly fun, unpredictable read.

The cover: The Dragon gets punched into a brick building by a demonic looking foe, illustrated by Erik Larsen. It’s nice to see the bystanders’ reactions to his punch, as it adds to the horror of the situation, because, let’s face it, if you were around when this went down, you’d react the same way. The coloring on this is also good, with the logo being the brightest focus on this cover, followed by the dragon and his antagonist. Everything else is dulled in color. This is a slick way to keep the reader’s eyes on the hero. Overall grade: A

The story: Erik Larsen has split this issue into two stories. He begins with Maxine and Angel walking in a park, with Angel confessing she’s impressed at how well Maxine is taking the speed with which her life has changed; at the top is her pregnancy. Angel says, “Not that I want to do that anytime soon, mind you…” Which has Maxine responding, “Yeah…About that…” A turn of the page has the story shift to Dragon breaking into an apartment with the police, noises were reported, to discover several people chained up. A grateful hostage proclaims, “Thank God! The devil man had us chained in this place and one by one he’s been pulling us down into the pit! God only knows what’s happened to the others!” Looking down into the abyss, Dragon is taken aback by an enormous devil man who lunges out screaming, “You’ll die for that, maggot! I’ll kill you!” Faster than you can say “Fight!” the fight is on. It’s a major slugfest with punches thrown and lots of destruction, but no one will be prepared for what concludes the battle. Larsen puts an excellent twist on this confrontation, with the solution to the battle extremely clever for Dragon being so young. This fight was a good way to show that Malcolm’s no dummy; he can punch it out as good as his dad, but he’s also thinking his way through the fight, and that separates him from a majority of the other super powered characters of this series. As much as I loved this fight, what Angel is discovering and Maxine is experiencing had me hooked. I hung on every word each said. I was grateful for the reunion at the end, but what a cliffhanger! Larsen’s capacity to write drama is as good as his ability to construct a fight. Overall grade: A

The art: By splitting the story in two directions, Erik Larsen gives himself an opportunity to get the best of both worlds in this issue: a monstrous battle and two “normal” characters going about their day. The opening page lulls the reader into thinking this will be a calm book with Angel and Maxine walking along. Larsen gives readers good shots of both characters, establishes their setting in the first and fourth panel, and moves the point of view around to make this a visually interesting conversation. A turn of the page reveals a full paged splash of the Dragon bursting into the room followed by the police. This page is the exact opposite of the first and an excellent “Wow” page for the reader. The Dragon’s reactions to what he’s seeing and hearing are great, and that final panel on 3 is very ominous. This panel was a good set up for the full paged splash of 4 which has the devil man leaping out of the pit. This is an excellent full shot of the character, establishing him for the reader. Just as the fight gets going, Larsen returns to Maxine and Angel, with an outstanding first panel showing only the latter character’s reaction to some potential life changing news. As the page progresses, Angel becomes more emotional, and the reader can feel her anguish in her pose. The fighting with the Dragon is brutal, with him sustaining quite a bit of physical wounds and the anger/fear that Angel feels is equally palpable because of the way she is drawn. I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Larsen’s work and I’m glad to see that he continues to be an outstanding artist. Overall grade: A

The colors: The colors on this issue are by Nikos Koutsis, with the flats done by Mike Toris. In addition to the story and art, the colors on Savage Dragon are always strong. I appreciate that bright colors are used, even in dark moments, rather than sacrificing the visuals to create a tone through dark colors. The colors on the first page were a great burst of yellow and violet on the women’s clothes as they made their way. Putting these colors on them as they strolled through a green environment made them even brighter. The apartment where the people were kept is appropriately dim, but is colored in browns and tans so things can be seen. The arrival of the devil man is an explosion of red on the page, with it countering the Dragon’s green excellently. The yellows and reds used for the fight are great and made each punch or blast powerful. Angel’s blonde hair had her standing out in all of her panels nicely, and I loved the absolutely disgusting pink for the Dragon’s left eye. This is slick work from Koutsis and Toris. Overall grade: A

The letters: Chris Eliopoulos does a sensational job on dialogue, yells, and sounds. The sounds are always spectacular on this book and I couldn’t imagine anyone other than Eliopoulos doing them. The highlight is the tussle between the Dragon and the devil, with the variety on 8 and 9 being extraordinary. Overall grade: A

The funnies: Four to enjoy in this installment, including Our Pal Thunder-Head, Heck If I Know Comics, Gosh Is Dead, and Hack O’Hara. Our Pal Thunder-Head by Simon Mallette St-Pierre was the best of the strips, with T.B. Kunker’s Gosh Is Dead a close second. Heck If I Know Comics by Charlie Higson didn’t make me laugh, but I’m glad it was included for its interesting change up in the visuals. The highpoint is the five page Hack O’Hara, the story of a cab driver who has a most unusual day beginning with a most unusual passenger. It’s funny, it looks awesome, and I’d buy this if it were its own book. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Action, drama, and some incredible visuals. Savage Dragon continues to be an incredibly fun, unpredictable read. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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